A few companies offer free domain registrations.
Some hosting companies include a free domain when the customer pays for web hosting. Other companies offer a free domain registration plus a website hosted for free.
Some of these businesses offer the use of a subdomain that is hosted for free on their system. A subdomain is a secondary level derived from a top-level domain. For example, google.com is a top-level domain. A subdomain for Google is maps.google.com. Subdomains are created by using a word then a dot and then by following this with the top-level domain. Any top-level domain can have unlimited subdomains. Google.com has hundreds of them. Others like Wix have millions of subdomains.
The biz.nf system offers registration and hosting of subdomains with the co.nf extension completely for free. The Wix and Weebly systems offer free domains and hosting in exchange for advertising that is shown as a banner across the footer of the web page.
The dot TK system and others offered by Freenom.com give web registrations without any hosting for free. Other systems such as Bluehost and Hostgator include the cost of domain registration as part of the package for customers who pay for website hosting on their system.
Here are the detailed explanations about these companies and the services that they offer:
Bluehost offers a free domain for customers who pay for web hosting services. These hosting services start at $2.95 per month. Any promotional rate offered by Bluehost is only for the first term and then the hosting account renews at the regular rate thereafter.
Bluehost, based in Orem, Utah, was started in 2003 by Matt Heaton and Danny Ashworth who wanted to help everyone from beginners to professionals with web hosting services. Since its humble beginnings, the company has now grown into being a leading hosting provider with over two million customers.
Bluehost offers a money-back guarantee and a refund policy for cancellation of services within the first 30 days. The refund is only for the price for the hosting services. If a domain registration is included in the package, then the domain registration is charged at the amount of $15.99 that is deducted from the refunded amount. This ensures that the domain registration is not lost by a customer, even if they cancel hosting services during the first 30 days.
The domain registration can be transferred to another registrar if desired. For brand new domains, transfers are only allowed after the mandatory waiting period of 60 days from the date of initial registration.
Hostgator does not offer any free domains by themselves. Hostgator offers a coupon that gives a discount of 20% off for domain registrations. By using a coupon, website hosting starts for one cent for the first month and then after that, it is as low as $2.75 per month. For those that pay for website hosting, which starts at $3.84 per month, a domain registration for the first year is included.
Hostgator has an interesting history that shows how it became as popular as it is now. Hostgator was started in 2002 by Brent Oxley from his dorm room, while he was a student at Florida Atlantic University. Within a few months, he had his first 100 hosting customers. One year later, he had over 1,000.
In 2003, Hostgator moved its headquarters from Boca Raton, Florida to Houston, Texas, where it remains to this day. In 2006, Hostgator opened its first international office in Toronto, Ontario. By 2008, the company had over 100,000 customers and one year after that over 200,000. In 2009, the company opened an office in Brazil. By 2011, the company had offices in China and Russia.
Hostgator and Bluehost are both owned by Endurance International Group (EIG). Hostgator was acquired by EIG in 2012. Hostgator expanded operations to Mexico in 2014 and now has many millions of global customers.
The free websites offered by Weebly are a subdomain of weebly.com, such as example.weebly.com. These Weebly subdomains are limited to 500 MB of storage on the Weebly system. They show Weebly ads at the bottom of the webpage in the footer area.
For those that want to own their own domain, Weebly offers a domain registration included as part of their annual starter web hosting plan for $96 per year, which works out to $8 per month.
A nice feature of this paid hosting offering from Weebly is that this starter plan also includes having a website with eCommerce capabilities for up to 10 products. The Weebly system has many eCommerce website templates that allow its users to quickly and easily make a professional-looking website.
The price of domain registration only, without any Weebly website hosting, is $19.95 per year. This is discounted for 15% for two years and up to 37% for registration or renewals of multiple years.
Wix offers free websites and hosting, which are subdomains of wix.com. The domain URL for a free Wix subdomain is in the format of username.wixsite.com/sitename. For the free websites, a small ad banner for Wix.com runs across the bottom of the web page.
A paid service option is available for those that want to use the Wix website system with their own domain that starts at $5 per month with 500 MB of storage and 1 GB of monthly bandwidth. Unlimited bandwidth for personal websites starts at $14 per month.
The paid Wix websites can be for personal use, business use, and eCommerce. Each paid plan includes one year of domain registration and vouchers for advertising on Google and Bing. Business and eCommerce plans start at $20 per month.
The real advantage of working with the Wix system is that it is really easy to create a nice-looking website. It is possible to start with a blank website and then use the Wix website builder to make a custom-designed website. As an alternative, it is easy to use over 500 templates that can be customized.
The Wix website builder is a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) tool that is extremely fun and easy to use. It is also possible to start with the free version and then later convert to the paid version without much trouble.
The Wix system is a cloud-based solution that allows premium paid users to easily create professional websites. For business websites, they can promote themselves through monthly email campaigns and streaming videos. There are over 110 million users of the Wix system globally.
The .nf domain is the top-level domain representing Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is a tiny island territory owned by Australia. It is located in the Pacific Ocean between the countries of New Zealand and Australia.
The co.nf domain is owned and managed by Biz.nf. Every free domain is a subdomain of co.nf. An example of a free domain on this system is http://example.co.nf. Biz.nf offers both a free domain registration that has the extension of co.nf and free domain hosting for those websites. Up to 50 free domains per person can be registered with the co.nf extension.
A free domain with hosting on this system includes 1,000 MB of file storage and is limited to 5 GB of monthly data transfer. Up to three free domains per person that are registered with the co.nf extension can be hosted for free.
Even though .nf is the top-level domain and co.nf is one of its subdomains, co.nf appears to be a top-level domain because it looks like other top-level domains in appearance, such as co.uk (for the country of the United Kingdom) or co.jp (for the country of Japan) etc. This makes having a free co.nf domain attractive for its ease of use and for being recognizable.
In addition to free domain registration, Biz.nf offers free hosting. This is truly a free service because there are no ads placed on the free websites. The free hosting offered by Biz.nf is very basic. This only works for websites with minimal web traffic.
The free hosting is good for those websites that do not need advanced web hosting services, such as an SSL security certificate and encryption protection. Biz.nf does offer these extra features as paid hosting services for modest prices with plans that start at $4.95 per month. Biz.nf also offers one year of free domain registration for those that want a regular domain as part of their annual paid web hosting plans.
One unique characteristic of the hosting provided by Biz.nf is that all the electricity used for the hosting services comes from wind power. This makes the Biz.nf system a truly green-energy solution that is good for the environment.
The Dot TK domain is a top-level domain from the island of Tokelau. This island is a New Zealand territory that is located in the South Pacific. The dot TK system is a very popular registrar. There are over 20 million domains registered on this system.
Registration for qualified domains on the dot TK system is free for up to 12 months. Renewals for up to 12 months longer can be made for free each year thereafter. Any company, organization, or a user can register a free domain on the dot TK system. There is no limit on the number of free domains that can be registered.
Registrations or renewals that are for a period longer than 12 months have an annual fee. The annual fee for paid registrations, of one year or longer, starts at $9.95 per year. Long-term registrations are offered at a discount of $84.58 for a ten-year period.
Free dot TK domains are subject to certain restrictions that include the number of letters in the domain names and the types of websites. Prohibited uses of dot TK websites include those used for the illegal distribution of copyrighted content, selling firearms, promoting hate speech, pornography, and spam purposes.
Registration of a domain on the dot TK system allows the use of the domain; however, registration does not convey ownership of the domain. This means a free domain registered on the dot TK system cannot be sold or transferred to another person or entity.
Free hosting of dot TK domains is offered by TotalHost.tk http://www.totalhost.tk/about-free-hosting.php. TotalHost.tk offers free hosting that includes 10 GB of storage and 100 GB of monthly bandwidth. This free domain hosting is supported by advertising.
A free dot TK website domain must have web traffic, which can be automatically redirected. If a dot TK website does not have any web traffic or if the redirect stops working, the website can be taken offline. There is no advance warning to prevent this from happening. If this happens, the website traffic is directed to an advertising web page from Sedo.
Freenom offers registration of free domains and paid domains.
The free domains offered on this system include:
- Dot TK: This is a top-level domain from the New Zealand territory of the island of Tokelau.
- Point ML: This is the Dot ML system that is a top-level domain from the African country of Mali.
- My GA: This is the Dot GA system that is a top-level domain from the African country of Gabon.
- Dot CF: This is a top-level domain from the African country of the Central African Republic.
- Dominio GQ: This is the Dot GQ system that is a top-level domain from the African country of Equatorial Guinea.
Freenom is a good resource for those looking for free websites. It is a place to get free domains quickly and easily. It is also a domain name service (DNS) provider. One optional way to use this service is to sign up for free domains and then forward the domain web traffic from the free domains to another website.
To use this forwarding, here are the steps:
- Choose Domain(s): A user selects the free domain(s) that they want.
- Select Registration Length: A user chooses the free amount of time that they want for the registration, which is up to 12 months.
- Enter Forwarding Information: A user enters the website that they want a domain to forward web traffic to (or enters their DNS number if they manage their own DNS nameservers).
- Confirm registration: A user finalizes the registration with contact information and by responding to an email verification sent to the email address they select.
Registration of these free domains, for up to 12 months, allows a person to use them but does not transfer ownership of them. That means they cannot be sold to others. The registration renewal for up to 12 months is also free. This must be done every 12 months or the website domain is lost. For those who do not want to have to renew each year for free, registrations longer than a 12–month period cost $9.95 per year. There are discounts for longer paid-registration periods.
Some of the domains on the systems offered by Freenom are sold. These are considered special domains because of the words used, the small numbers of characters in the domain name, or if they are trademark names. These special domains are offered for sale at prices that start at $1,000.
Freenom also sells regular domain registrations at low-cost for the exactly the same price that Freenom has to pay to other registrars. This includes popular domain extensions such as dot coms etc. Freenom has the goal to get as many people in the world on the Internet as possible by supporting localized content.
Many of the easy-to-register free domains, such as those found on the Freenom system, are misused by bad persons on the Internet for malware distribution and phishing schemes. This is because it is so easy to register a free domain. The only thing needed for registration is an email address.
These free domains have automatic forwarding. Upon registration, they are immediately available for use. Criminal hackers put fake phishing websites up to trap people, already knowing that the websites will only work for a short time until enough complaints are made and the system shuts a bad website down.
This misuse of free domains may be a benefit for criminal hackers. However, for others that have a legitimate website using a free domain is somewhat seen as having a negative stigma. The free domain systems try to remove any bad websites as quickly as possible to avoid this problem.
For those that prefer an easy-to-use domain extension, dot TK is the simplest one. That is why it is the most popular with over 20 million domain registrations.
For those that want a nice-looking free domain, the ones that can be created on the Wix system are the best looking and most professional. However, the domain URL on the Wix system is very lengthy.
There are certainly many good uses for free domains; however, the amount of savings is rather minimal when compared to the value of a popular website. For simple uses, free domains can be very helpful, such as for putting information about a one-time event on the Internet.
For popular websites, it is better to pay for domain hosting such as on the Bluehost or Hostgator system and get the first year of domain registration included. Many prefer to just simply go ahead and pay for domain registration. Those willing to pay for domain registration are able to get one for the best price, which Freenom calls “at-cost pricing,” by using the Freenom system.
With so many interesting choices, it is very easy to find a free (or low-cost) domain.